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#1 geko

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 12:11 PM

Just finished "The science of good and evil" by micheal shermer. It discusses morality from an evolutionary point of view and comes to some pretty sound conclusions in my opinion. Dont agree with the foundation (evolution) personally, but i dont have to agree with that to understand (even agree with) a lot of the book. Shermer brings religion into the picture, not to validate anything absolute but.... well, you'll have to read it Posted Image

All in all, a fine crown for the trilogy!

****

(^^ out of five *)

#2 Tormod

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Posted 08 August 2004 - 10:57 AM

Hi Geko - do you mind writing a brief review for us? It sounds like a very interesting book.

#3 geko

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 01:56 PM

Not sure if i know how to write a review, so ill try and write a kind of synopsis using the contents page as a reference.

It starts when humans are already on the scene, and argues for the origin of morality as a product of our social nature due to the need to live in harmony, get along and whether or not to go to war etc. Evolution is used to explain the [relatively absolute] nature of certain moral inclinations. Reciprocation is the golden rule (<- i think...eek), used, along with trade, to explain the why's and wherefores of making allegiances and making wars.

Growing populations is used to explain the progressive complexity of the codes. Social contracts (such as do unto others..... etc.,), and social control (such as gossip etc.,) no longer worked when bands and tribes expanded into chiefdoms and states, expressing the need for a more coherent structure. Religion codified, the state (and religion) enforced.

The book is split into 2 parts, with the second part arguing for the non-relative and non-absolute nature of morality and ethics. Fuzzy logic is used in determining the degree to which an act is good or evil. Provisional ethics, rather than relative or absolute, is the outcome, leading to clasification of right and wrong and how to tell the difference.

Two appendixes are included with the first one giving insight into the origin of this evolutionary ethics - subtitled "the origin of evolutionary ethics". The second is a list of moral and religious universals.

A book that's an enthralling argument for the possible objective nature of morality.

#4 Freethinker

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 02:47 PM

I have not read this book (I have read other Shermer books and have chatted with him, great resource) But have read what sounds like a similar thought process, The Science of Morality. The Individual, Community, and Future Generations. Joseph L. Daleiden.

The concept being that even though there is no basis for a claim of an absolute, non-situational, revelation based moral code, there is a methodology based on the Scientific Method (reason/ logic/ experimentation/...) by which morals can be objectively established.

If it is OK for me to kill you, it is equally OK for you to kill me. Therefore "not killing" can be established objectively as a moral code.

However morals are still situational and can change over time.

While the human race was first developing, there was a very high mortality rate and it took lots of help to do thing. Thus any birth control would be morally abhorant. But today with millions dying of starvation in certain countries, it is morally abhorant to not practice birth control.

#5 Tormod

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 02:54 PM

Thanks geko, much appreciated!

#6 geko

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 03:56 PM

You're welcome


Originally posted by: Freethinker
what sounds like a similar thought process, The Science of Morality. The Individual, Community, and Future Generations. Joseph L. Daleiden.


I remember you saying about this in another thread and when i went looking around for it i stumbled on shermer's book and had to buy it instead. Will get round to reading that one though, but not yet Posted Image

#7 Freethinker

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 10:46 PM

I have enjoyed a number of Shermer's books, you did not go wrong.

#8 Gulielmus

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 02:02 AM

There are only 2 UNIVERSALLY wrong / evil things that are done in this world: murder and rape. If you ask almost anyone about this they will agree with you. Almost all other things can be argued. Even if you are doing it for a good cause (ex: save your family) it was still wrong even if it was unavoidable.